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Can Alcohol in My System Affect My Car Accident Claim?

Mar 26, 2021 | Auto Accident


It is common knowledge now that operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is extremely dangerous. In addition to putting your life at risk, drunk driving-related instances can result in casualties or substantial property damage. Furthermore, legal problems like a DUI or reckless driving charge can put you behind bars and result in hundreds or thousands of dollars in fines.

Nevertheless, an extremely fine line exists between drunk, impaired, and sober driving. After all, it is common for adults to want to enjoy a drink or two at dinner or during a night out.

Therefore, how do you know if alcohol in your system contributed to or affected a car accident?  Additionally, will alcohol in your system alter the reward you may receive from an accident claim–even if the incident was the fault of the other party and you were not found to be impaired?

The Risk With Alcohol Consumption

There are over 10,000 casualties in the United States each year related to drinking and driving. Alcohol-impaired motor vehicle accidents account for nearly one-third of all traffic-related incidents. In the end, there is no viable reason for getting behind the wheel with alcohol or drugs in your system.

However, alcohol consumption gets convoluted in the context of motor vehicle accidents where impairment is not suspected. For example, you may decide to have a drink during dinner and get behind the wheel an hour later. While it is feasible that alcohol remains in your system, it is likely under the legal limit. Thus, the driver may not have committed any crimes, yet a toxicology report could influence the amount insurance is willing to payout.

Insurance providers utilize toxicology reports and other evidence collected at the scene of an accident to determine fault. Additionally, Indiana follows a unique modified comparative fault negligence system which can also impact the award amount for damages. Consequently, it’s not uncommon for injured victims of motor vehicle accidents in Indiana to seek a car accident claim lawyer.

Stewart & Stewart is one of the most reputable law firms in Indiana. We have an outstanding track record of representing clients in motor vehicle accidents. We understand the liability system better than anyone and can help fight for adequate damages on your behalf. Contact Stewart & Stewart today at (866) 926-2414.

Indiana Modified Comparative Fault System

The important lesson is that even though alcohol consumption may fall under a legal limit in terms of the authorities, the slightest hint of alcohol or drugs in your system could delay or prevent a full payout from an insurance provider.

The biggest reason why is the Indiana Comparative Fault Act. This type of negligence system generally does not place 100% of the liability on one responsible party. So, for example, in Indiana, it’s far more common for both drivers to accept some form of responsibility compared to all of the fault being placed on one motorist.

Of course, the degrees of fault vary depending on the evidence and details surrounding the motor vehicle accident. If alcohol or drugs did play a factor in the collision, it is possible that the other party will not have any liability in the accident and thus is entitled to a full insurance payout.

Unfortunately, the details can get messy if it is also determined that alcohol was in your system at the time of the accident, even if the levels were below the legal limit and otherwise did not influence the accident in any regard.

While drivers who were not responsible for the accident but had alcohol in their system may face some form of liability for the incident, the goal is to be less than 51% responsible for the accident.

Since the Indiana modified comparative fault system works by assigning fault to more than one party (in general), the goal is to assume less than half the responsibility so that the other party will be responsible for most of the damages. Thus, victims in Indiana are only eligible for a personal injury claim if they assume less than 51% of the fault for the accident.

Defend Yourself From Liability With a Car Accident Claim Lawyer at Stewart & Stewart

A driver that was involved in a motor vehicle accident yet is not primarily responsible for the crash should not get punished financially—even if the toxicology reports suggest alcohol was in your system.

While motorists with alcohol in their system (assuming the levels were below the legal limit) may assume partial responsibility for the accident, the purpose is to reduce liability for a larger insurance payout.

Auto insurance providers in Indiana determine damage award amounts based on Indiana’s modified comparative fault system. The higher percentage of liability attributed to you means you’ll receive less in compensation from the insurance company, even if you fall below the 51% threshold.

Free Consultations—Contact Our Office Today

Consequently, many victims of motor vehicle accidents request a car accident lawyer to defend their actions. While alcohol may have shown up in your system (assuming you did not commit any crimes and were below the legal limit), a skilled car accident lawyer at Stewart & Stewart can fight to reduce personal liability and therefore enhance the amount in damages. Contact us today for a free consultation at (866) 926-2414.

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If you have been involved in an Indiana personal injury accident, contact us at Stewart & Stewart Attorneys. Our Indiana personal injury lawyers represent victims throughout the state, including Carmel and Anderson. We have also successfully advocated for clients throughout the area, including Fort Wayne, Gary, Indianapolis, South Bend. Complete a free online consultation form or call us at (800) 33-33-LAW!

Stewart & Stewart Attorneys have the knowledge and experience to defend your rights in the following areas of Indiana injury law: auto accident, brain injury, drug injury, defective product, fire and burn injury, insurance dispute, medical malpractice, motorcycle accident, nursing home abuse, slip and fall,  truck accident, workers’ compensation and wrongful death.